Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx
NEW YORK — In the seventh inning, it was power versus power. Two innings later, it was the same scenario. Each time, the Boston Red Sox prevailed, as Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel recorded inning-ending strikeouts of slugger Aaron Judge to preserve a 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees on Tuesday. Kelly faced Judge with Brett Gardner on first and two outs in the seventh of a 5-3 game. He threw one pitch to Judge clocked at 103 mph on the scoreboard, and Judge fouled off three of the four pitches that were more than 100 mph.
“Power versus power,” Boston center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said. “I was actually surprised at some of the balls he was catching up with at the top of the zone. My gosh, how is he getting to that ball? It was amazing.”
Benintendi, Bradley and Betts
On the sixth pitch, Kelly deviated from fastballs and threw a hard slider that resulted in a swinging strikeout of the top home run hitter in the majors.
“That was a good battle right there,” Kelly said. “Obviously one of the best hitters in the league right now, especially in a tight game like that. You got to be very cautious with a guy who’s hitting the ball and seeing the ball that well.”
Boston manager John Farrell said, “I think any time Aaron Judge walks to the plate, all eyes go to it because of the way he’s been swinging the bat, but Joe with just some big-time velocity finishes him off with a powerful slider. A classic matchup inside of an otherwise well-played game all around.”
Kimbrel replaced Matt Barnes in a two-run game in the eighth with Matt Holliday at third. He struck out Didi Gregorius on a swinging strike in the dirt, but the breaking ball went by catcher Christian Vazquez for a wild pitch as Holliday scored.
Kimbrel made it more interesting by walking Chase Headley on a full count. He then fanned Chris Carter with a full-count 99 mph fastball that was well out of the strike zone, ending the inning.
The Boston closer fanned Brett Gardner and Gary Sanchez to open the ninth, setting up the confrontation with Judge.
It took just three pitches to end it, and Kimbrel notched his 17th save by fanning Judge on a 99 mph fastball. Kimbrel tied a season high with five strikeouts and also recorded a multi-inning save for the third time in four chances.
“Kimbrel’s awesome,” Kelly said.
Kimbrel’s last save was a 33-pitch, four-out appearance Saturday in Baltimore, but he had two days in between outings, which factored in how Farrell used him.
“With the tying run at the plate and then the following inning in the heart of their order, once again he’s come up big for us,” Farrell said. “He was extended in the eighth inning here a little bit tonight but was able to get through the ninth inning unscathed and very powerful.”
Before improving to 24-1 when Kimbrel pitches, the Red Sox used a power display against struggling Masahiro Tanaka (5-6) and built a 5-1 lead through five innings.
The Red Sox slugged three homers for the fifth time all season, upping their total to 56. Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez went back-to-back in the fourth, and Andrew Benintendi slugged a solo shot into the second deck in right in the fifth.
Drew Pomeranz (6-3) made the homers stand up despite a laborious five innings. He threw 123 pitches but allowed only two runs (one earned) and six hits.
Xander Bogaerts drove in the other run for the Red Sox, who are 11-4 in their last 15 games.
Judge reached base in his first three plate appearances. The right fielder also robbed Bradley of an extra-base hit with a diving catch in the second.
Judge’s inability to catch up to pitches from Kelly and Kimbrel occurred after Tanaka allowed five runs and five hits in five innings. He is 0-5 with a 10.50 ERA in his last five starts and allowed multiple homers for the fifth time this season.
“It’s the same issue,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Nothing’s really changed. It’s the inconsistencies in the pitches.”
Carter homered and Aaron Hicks scored on a throwing error by Mookie Betts on a single by Gregorius as the Yankees lost for the fifth time in eight games.
NOTES: Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia (sprained left wrist) took batting practice before the game and remains on track to be activated from the disabled list on Friday. … New York 1B Greg Bird (bruised right ankle) went 1-for-4 in his seventh rehab game for Class A Tampa. He will next be moved to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. … Red Sox LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right knee subluxation) consulted with Dr. James Andrews on Monday and was prescribed active rest and rehab. Boston manager John Farrell said Rodriguez might throw on flat ground in the next few days. … New York LHP Aroldis Chapman (left rotator cuff inflammation) will appear in a simulated game Friday in Tampa and a rehab game next week with Double-A Trenton. Chapman said he thinks he might be able to return by the end of next week.